How long is a registered trademark valid for? It differs from country to country, but most countries now make it a 10-year period. After the 10-year period or just at the end of the 10-year period, in year nine, you get to renew it, you have to pay a fee and then generally it’s renewed for another 10 years and you can keep renewing and renewing and renewing so your trademark can be valid theoretically forever.
However, nothing in the law is ever completely simple, there is a proviso. In some countries, you do have to prove use, in the US, for example, at certain times throughout the life of a trademark, you do have to show that you’ve used it. Other countries like Australia and New Zealand do not have a positive requirement to prove use. But if you don’t use the trademark for a consecutive period of three years in Australia and three years in New Zealand, somebody else can apply to get your trademark removed, and other countries have different non-use periods.
The reason for this is that the government department doesn’t want trademarks to be on the register that are not in use and the theory is that you can file it and get it protected but you should be using it within three years. That should be enough time for you to get your product off the ground. If you don’t use it in the first three years, it doesn’t matter, the three years that count are the most recent three years. So if you used it for a couple of years and then didn’t use it for five years, you’re still not gonna be out of the woods. It has to be the most recent three years if somebody files a removal application.
Now, in some countries, if you’re the one filing the removal application, you still have to prove non-use on part of the trademark owner but in Australia and New Zealand, you don’t have to prove non-use. So if I file to get your trademark removed, you then have to prove that you’ve used it as a trademark. That means you should keep your old documents, your old letterheads, your old receipts, and you can keep them electronically. Anything that’s dated and particularly things like invoices if your trademark is on the invoice, keep copies, you need to for tax purposes anyway, but you should keep copies for trademark purposes as well.
Because if you have to show you’ve used your trademark, you’re gonna need those. Also keep old social media posts, magazine advertising, if you’ve been in the media and your brand’s been mentioned, anything like that, it’s a good idea to keep an archive because you might need to defend your trademark. So your trademark is valid for 10 years but it could be removed if you don’t use it in the last three years.
The other time that a trademark might have a problem is if you register it in the name of a company and that company gets deregistered. In which case the ownership of the trademark reverts to the government. This means you no longer own the trademark and the government can sell the trade mark if they want. This makes it impossible for you to sell or otherwise deal with your trade mark registration. My name is Cathryn Warburton and I am the Legal Lioness.